Developing Organizational Maturity

A while back I read a highly insightful book by Bernard Stiegler entitled Taking Care of Youth and The Generations that discusses how current marketing practices today are impeding the social and cultural development of young people, thus preventing them from fully maturing as adults. What I find interesting is that I actually believe that we are undergoing a similar crisis within organizations today in that current business practices are impeding the social and cultural development of organizations, thus preventing them from also fully maturing as well.

To understand the cause of this problem though, I think we need to understand the developmental differences between a child and an adult. From my perspective, the goal of raising a child is to help them reach an adult state of freedom and responsibility whereby they are able to act independently on their own in a sustainable manner. In effect, to reach a point where they are no longer dependent upon their parents to support them but they can fend for themselves within the world on their own.

For the most part though, I’m not seeing this same sense of development being applied to organizations. If anything, instead of helping their organization to reach a state of independence, most entrepreneurs are doing the exact opposite, often micromanaging and maintaining their parental control, thus causing the organization to continually flounder in a dependent and child-like state, always needing the support and guidance of their founding birth parent.

We need to learn to let go and allow the organizations that we have founded and birthed to fully grow, mature, and think on their own.

Yet if we truly want to create innovative organizations of the 21st century then we can’t continue with this same approach. We need to learn to let go and allow the organizations that we have founded and birthed to fully grow, mature, and think on their own. Then and only then will they be able to take the next step and carry us into a new world and a more natural way of working together.

The Rising Emergence of Systempreneurs

Once of my greatest frustrations in pursuing my passion, purpose, and vision in life is not being able to easily articulate what my passion, purpose, and vision is to others (even though I understand it clearly myself). By this, I mean easily encapsulating it with just a few words like a job title, that someone within the business sector will easily understand.

The reason I can’t easily do this is because what I’m pursuing doesn’t even exist yet as a defined job role, since it’s still in the process of emergence. But there in lies the conundrum, how can you market yourself and your abilities to others when you can’t easily articulate what it is you do?

To get around this issue, I’m continually scouring the Web and reading books to find information that might relate to what I’m trying to do. Luckily I have found a variety of books whose authors are all articulating the same thing but just in different ways. That being that we are in the process of change, of trying to figure out a new way of not just working but of learning as well. Why? Because our old ways of learning and working are failing us and at a rapidly increasing pace.

Yet again, even though all of these authors are effectively talking about the same thing, there isn’t a unifying word from any of them that I’ve found that clearly communicates what they are all trying to do (as words like “Chief Culture Officer” just didn’t cut it for me). Well that all changed today. In reading a Fast Company article describing social intrapreneurs, the word “systempreneur” came up and I realized that this was the simple word that I had been looking for all along.

What needs to be done is to change the entire system from the outside and inside, all at once.

Throughout my entire life, I’ve always strived to be an intrapreneur, trying to bring out a social change from within an organization or company. However, while sometimes I made a difference and brought about some good, for the most part, it really didn’t add up to much because the overriding corporate culture and societal system negated any sort of real substantial and permanent change.

More and more as time passed, I slowly realized that making these piecemeal attempts from within companies was a complete waste of time. What needs to be done is to change the entire system from the outside and inside, all at once. This, in a nutshell, is what a systempreneur does and what all of these authors have been simply trying to articulate. That there is a rising emergence of individuals who are striving to bring about a systematic change to our societal institutions, thus allowing us to learn and work in innovative new ways.

Losing Your Way

I‘ve been extremely busy over the past couple of months, working on a variety of things. What I’ve just realized this past week though is that I’m not where I want to be. And what’s even more frustrating is that I’ve been down this road a million times before, yet I still stupidly keep going down it, because the siren’s call from it is so alluring.

What I’m talking about is web design and how it plays a part in my life. Yes, I enjoy web design and have never ever regretted learning it. And yes, I believe that I’m fairly proficient with it as well, proficient enough to do it professionally. But just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should.

You see I didn’t learn web design to become a web designer. I learnt web design because I was fascinated with the Web and wanted to explore it, play with it, and learn about it. In doing so, I realized it was an open platform that could empower people greatly through social sharing and interaction. Thus I wasn’t fascinated by the technology so much as I was by what the Web could do for the people as an empowering platform of social interaction and collaboration.

I’m not learning a technical skill to master it and do it professionally. I’m learning and using it as a tool to help me to achieve my own greater passion, purpose, and vision in life.

What I’ve realized is that this same thing applies to any type of technical skill that I’ve come across and learnt. I’m not learning a technical skill to master it and do it professionally. I’m learning and using it as a tool to help me to achieve my own greater passion, purpose, and vision in life. Thus the technical skill is like a stepping stone that gets me to where I want to be and doing what I want to do.

For example, at the same time the Web was rising in prominence in the early nineties, so too were immersive online multiplayer games. Fascinated by these immersive 3D environments and the emergent collaborative nature of these games that required real teamwork to pull off, I jumped in head first to explore them. Again it was here that I used my newly learnt web skills not to build websites for others but to build them for myself. In effect, I used web design as one of my many technical skills to create the empowering community and cultural environments that I wanted to play and learn within.

So yes, web design is important to me, as it allows me to build the online communities which are a part of my passion, purpose, and vision in life but again I can’t focus on web design so much so that I lose myself within it trying to master it completely. Again, I must remember it is only a means to an end.

Illustration via Wikipedia